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USDA introduces online food desert locator

Washington, US: Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, US, introduced an Internet-based mapping tool that pinpoints the location of “food deserts” around the country. It provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.

The online food desert locator, developed by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS), is a tool that can be used to assist efforts to expand the availability of nutritious food in food deserts, or low-income communities that lack ready access to healthy food. Expanding the availability of nutritious food is part of First Lady Michele Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to address the epidemic of childhood obesity.

“This new food desert locator will help policy makers, community planners, researchers and other professionals identify communities where public-private intervention can help make fresh, healthy and affordable food more readily available to residents,” said Vilsack.

The food desert locator comes on the heels of an earlier Web mapping tool documenting indicators of food access, which was also developed by ERS: the recently updated Food Environment Atlas.

Source: USDA